Valve is sending its Dota 2-based card game Artifact to a free-to-play farm upstate. Two years after the game's initial release, Valve has ended its Artifact 2.0 revamp project, making the game free to play and canceling all future updates to the game.
In its announcement, Valve said the game's flagging player base had become too small to justify the continued work.
"Despite good initial sales, our player count fell off pretty dramatically. This warranted a shift from the service/update development model we'd planned to a full reevaluation of the game's mechanics and economy," the company said in a blog post.
"While we're reasonably satisfied we accomplished most of our game-side goals, we haven't managed to get the active player numbers to a level that justifies further development at this time."
The game will be split into two versions. Artifact Classic will preserve the game as it was before Valve began reworking it, while Artifact Foundry offers the unfinished version Valve was working on.
"Technically, Artifact Foundry remains an unfinished product," Valve said, "but most of what's missing is polish and art — the core gameplay is all there."
All the cards in both games will be given to all players, eliminating pack purchases. Paid ticket events have been removed from Classic. Paid players' existing cards have been turned into special Collector's Edition versions of those cards, and those players will still earn packs of Collector's Edition cards for playing. Free-to-play players won't receive those packs.
"We're proud of the work we've done on both games and excited about delivering them to a much larger audience of gamers," Valve said.